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Archive for January 13th, 2010

Day three:  I spent most of my time practicing Jerusalem Ridge (tune 1), somewhat neglected Shady Grove (tune 2) – but I practiced it in at least three keys! –  and I’m taking a short break from learning tune three: Billy in the Lowground.

I have a recording of it by Red Allen and Frank Wakefield (from The Kitchen Tapes) which I listened to today, perhaps for the first time.  I set my bluegrass library on shuffle and it caught my ear, so I decided it would be tune three.  I also have a Mark O’Connor recording (from The Championship Years) and a transcription, but that’s way more involved and will have to wait for another night when I can muster the gumption to attempt his western swing improvisation.

So back to Billy in the Lowground, though if it weren’t for this ‘tune a day’ commitment I’d be playing Jerusalem Ridge.  Oh how I love that tune. With the help of the Amazing Slower Downer,  I’m breaking down the fiddler’s, uh, breaks in the aforementioned Tony Rice interpretation, and then trying to play along with the recording to speed. It’s amazing how great it feels compared to day one, but the real test will be playing it with others.

Right, back to Billy.

Update: New inspiration for Billy in the Lowground! Check out this awesome duo and their lovely rendition of this old time tune: http://dulcimergirl.wordpress.com/2008/10/05/billy-in-the-lowground/

I had put my fiddle away for the night, but the addict in me checked the interweb for updates and wordpress  suggested this page to me.  “Another post about Billy in the Lowground?” Must be some crazy banjo player I though. I was only half right, because there’s a dulcimer in there, too. Christie Burns plays it beautifully, and its ethereal sound gave me a whole new perspective on this tune. Thanks guys!

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